FLORA FONG 

Flora Fong’s radiant compositions have long been considered among the most important contemporary artistic production in Cuba. Her work is at once local and universal in its exploration of a national identity and syncretic culture. Born in 1949 in Camagüey, Cuba, Fong began her artistic studies at the local school of Plastic Arts in the early 1960s. Showing great artistic aptitude, she later enrolled in the Escuela Nacional de Artes, where she graduated in 1970. Soon thereafter, she had her first solo exhibition in 1973 at Galería Galiano in Havana. In 1975, the artist would exhibit once again at Galería Galiano in a two person show alongside master artist, Manuel Mendive. This exhibition, which traveled to Bucharest and Prague, contextualized Fong’s work not only within the national art historical canon, but also, it catapulted her career to international recognition.

Flora Fong’s body of work pays tribute to Cuban popular culture, the natural beauty of the island and the nation’s criollo heritage. The artist’s palette is one that bursts with a bouquet of vivid tropical colors, and with it, she masterfully reinterprets and personalizes the iconic elements that define her homeland, her surroundings –and essentially– her intimate universe. Fong’s favorite motifs appear and reappear in her work as to affirm her identity and main sources of inspiration: the Caribbean Sea and its marine life, the Caribbean winds, the mangroves, roosters, palm trees, banana groves, mountains, and then of course, her popular coladores de café (coffee
strainers) and sunflowers.

Similar to artists such as modern surrealist master Wifredo Lam, Flora Fong has sought ways to incorporate elements of her Oriental heritage into her visual lexicon. The incorporation of the black line in her compositions highlights the artist’s interest in expressing the aesthetic force of Chinese calligraphy. Like other vanguardistas, such as Amelia Peláez, she also uses this recourse to outline the figures, flatten the picture plane and fragment the central focal point in her renditions.

Throughout her prolific four-decade long career, Flora Fong has garnered international acclaim. Her work is part of distinguished public collections including, the National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana; National Parliament in Beijing, China; France Liberté Foundation, Paris; Casa Real, Madrid; Royal Museum of Ontario, Canada; Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyongju, South Korea, among others. The artist has participated in dozens of group exhibitions most notably, Rodando se encuentran, Museum of Architecture and Town, Planning, Shanghai, China, 2014; 16th Beijing Art Expo, Latin American Art, Beijing, China, 2012; Latin American Painting Now, Naples Museum of Art in Naples, FL, 2009. Her artwork has also been the subject of numerous one person exhibitions. Most recently, Flora Fong’s work has been requested for a major traveling exhibition, Cultural Encounters: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945-Present which was inaugurated in 2019 at the International Arts and Artists center in Washington, DC.

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